Schererville’s Ryan Ruthrauff surprised to be headed to Dominican Republic
By Anthony D. Alonzo Post-Tribune correspondent July 21, 2012 11:08PM
Ryan Ruthrauff, 14, of Schererville, was recently selected to play for the Team America Baseball club, a national team run by Caliendo Sports International. In early August, Ruthrauff will travel to the Dominican Republic to play in a tournament against baseball clubs from Latin America.
Updated: August 23, 2012 10:56AM
At 14 years old, Ryan Ruthrauff has earned himself a ticket to Latin America. One of 14 players in the United State who was recently selected by Caliendo Sports International to play for Team America Baseball, the Schererville teen will head to the Dominican Republic in August.
In places where baseball fever is as hot as this year’s Midwest summer, Ruthrauff will be called upon to pitch and hit against youth teams from across South America. He’s cool and collected, though, having adopted a just-go-out-and-have-fun attitude toward the game.
“This is a huge opportunity,” Ruthrauff said. “Me and my mom were coming home from one of my games and she just brought up (making Team America). I was speechless the whole ride. When I went to tryouts, I did not think that I was going to get to the next level. I just went there to improve my game.”
Meanwhile, Ruthrauff continues to put up impressive numbers for his 14U travel team, the Northwest Indiana Shockers. He’s earned a winning record on the mound and is batting .414, with a .570 on-base percentage.
With travel ball being played at complexes throughout Indiana and Illinois, the boys of summer would be grounded if not for the support of their parents. And Ryan’s mom, Anne-Marie Prince, doesn’t miss a beat.
The single mom makes time around her work schedule to transport and cheer for Ryan as well as his brother Kyle Ruthrauff, 19, who plays for Schererville’s Senior Babe Ruth team. It’s Prince’s voice that cuts through the mix on baseball highlights that the she has posted on YouTube.
“Ryan would always be cheering his brother on,” Prince said. “It wasn’t until literally a couple of years ago when I decided it was Ryan’s turn and I needed to spend some focus on him.”
When he’s able to catch a White Sox game, Ryan cheers on his favorite pro team along with his family. Yet what seems to be a wall-to-wall focus on sports actually reveals a strong interest in academics. Ryan was a perennial honor roll student and “had a blast” at Grimmer Middle School. He’ll be entering his freshman year at Lake Central in the fall.
At the tryouts — which were actually for the Great Lakes Region Team USA — near St. Charles, Ill., in May, Ryan said it was more than just his fastball and slugging ability that left a good impression with the coaches.
“The only thing (Peter Caliendo, CSI president) really said to me was ‘good hustle,’” Ryan said.
Growing up as Kyle’s kid brother gave him certain advantages. Whether it was running on a nearby bike path or playing catch at the park, Ryan said he took pointers from Kyle. And their mom said lacking an at-home father figure raised the importance of male role models for her sons.
The family credited Shockers coach Troy Toweson and longtime family friend James Kent, a former college baseball player, with serving as father figures for “Rufus” — a nickname based on Ryan’s surname.
Ryan said that ultimately most success comes down to individual initiative, perseverance, and respect.
“Be respectful to your parents,” he said, giving advice to other aspiring young baseball players. “Have a good attitude. Never throw your helmet when you strike out. Just forget about it, go back to the dugout and say, ‘I’m going to rock this dude the next time I come up.’”